Logic Pro? Check. Ableton Live? Check. But don’t think about running a new Intel-based Mac unless your drivers work, too. M-Audio has finished their new Intel drivers, covering a huge selection of devices. (Odds are, you have something from M-Audio sitting in your studio, I’ll bet.) And M-Audio isn’t alone: the Intel transition is going surprisingly fast for Mac musicians.
Devices that are class-compliant and thus don’t need drivers — typically simple USB audio and MIDI devices — are already supported. But M-Audio’s update covers everything else, including the FireWire 410, ProjectMix I/O, Ozonic keyboard, Fast Track Pro, and so on, literally “all non-PCI M-Audio interfaces and controllers,” say M-Audio:
Not only are the drivers ready, but there’s a Universal version of the Enigma editor/librarian software, too (which is nice of M-Audio, since native Intel code wasn’t strictly necessary other than to give us snappy performance). PCI cards, as with other vendors, aren’t yet supported because there aren’t any Intel Macs with PCI slots yet. M-Audio joins other major vendors including Edirol and MOTU, meaning audio support is basically ready on the driver level for the majority of devices most musicians use. (One exception: Pro Tools systems, though non-PCI users should be able to run Pro Tools on Intel next month.)
What I find especially interesting is how far ahead of the curve music software is — just the opposite of what you might expect. We have most drivers already shipping, with nearly all software either shipping already for Intel or promised in the next few months. While support is a bit spotty at the moment if you use a lot of plug-ins, I think most Mac musicians will be able to comfortably switch to Intel by the summer. By contrast, graphics users have to wait until 2007 before Adobe delivers their creative applications.
This isn’t just a Mac thing, either: on the Windows side, most audio drivers are 64-bit compliant, as is the entire Cakewalk software line, at a time when 64-bit is otherwise off the radar screen of the PC platform. (Heck, even gamers haven’t figured it out.)
Score one for music developers, even despite a relatively small market and less programmer manpower. Makes you think we’re hungry for Intel-based Macs, huh?